As North Korea and Russia accelerate closer military cooperation, Russian Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora mentioned the possibility of North Korea’s seventh nuclear test.
In an interview with Russia’s Sputnik news agency on the 10th, Ambassador Matsegora said, “If U.S. provocations continue and they (North Korea) become more and more dangerous, I believe the North Korean leadership may decide to conduct a nuclear test to strengthen national defense capabilities.” “We are not ruling out that it exists outside,” he claimed. He also emphasized, “If something like this happens, responsibility will lie with the United States and its allies.” Ambassador Matsegora previously argued in an interview with Russian media on the 7th, “It would be better for North Korea to decide to conduct a new nuclear test to further strengthen its defense capabilities.”
In an interview with Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency on the 11th, Ivan Zhelokhtsev, director of the First Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, responded to North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-un’s recent threatening remarks against South Korea, such as ‘preparing for war’, by saying, “The risk of a direct military conflict on the Korean Peninsula is rapidly increasing. “It vividly shows that it exists,” he claimed. He continued, “Chairman Kim’s warning must be viewed in the context that the United States and its allies are taking dangerous military measures, such as conducting joint exercises targeting North Korea.” A Russian director-level official in charge of South Korea, North Korea, and China shifted responsibility for the recent escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula due to North Korea’s provocations to South Korea, the United States, and Japan.
The fact that Russian officials are sending a fear-inducing message by mentioning the possibility of North Korea’s seventh nuclear test is interpreted as an attempt to justify North Korea-Russia military cooperation and at the same time prevent the United States from intervening in the Ukraine war. In particular, some interpret it as intentionally heightening the sense of crisis as the possibility of former President Donald Trump coming back to power is being discussed ahead of the US presidential election in November.
Meanwhile, a 97-member Russian tour group led by the director of Russia’s Maritime Region International Cooperation Department arrived in Pyongyang, North Korea, on the 9th. This is the first time in four years that North Korea has received group tourists since it closed its borders in January 2020 in the aftermath of the novel coronavirus infection.
The tourist group that visited Pyongyang for a 4-day, 3-night trip included Russian government officials, including the director of the Maritime Province International Cooperation Department. There is also the possibility that tourism cooperation measures were discussed in earnest at the government level as a follow-up to last year’s summit.
On the 10th, North Korea also dispatched an agricultural technology delegation headed by Kim Gwang-ok, director of the National Institute of Agricultural Sciences, to Russia. Some speculate that the two countries may have been discussing ways to dispatch North Korean workers while disguising it as the purpose of agricultural technology exchange. Maritime Province Governor Oleg Kozemyako said in November last year, “We will consider providing agricultural land to North Korean farmers.” When North Korea sent construction workers to Russia, they disguised them as international students.
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.